As Rwanda prepares for the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) scheduled from November 30 to December 12, 2023, in UAE, Dubai, local civil society organizations are advocating for a substantial increase in adaptation finance with a specific focus on the agricultural sector.
The appeal is grounded in the fact that agriculture contributes 25 percent to the national GDP, and 77 percent of Rwandans rely on it for their livelihoods.
In a position paper submitted to the Government, the Rwanda Climate Change and Development Network (RCCDN), a coalition of 73 non-government organizations dedicated to climate change, environment, and development, underscored the need for the government to prioritize the adaptation agenda in agriculture.
“We call on the Government to influence negotiations at COP 28, considering agriculture as a crucial sector for building sustainable community resilience to climate change and ensuring food security,” Faustin Vuningoma, the coordinator of RCCDN, said.
Vuningoma urged developed nations, historically responsible for global warming, to take a lead role in increasing adaptation finance to Africa, a region contributing less than 4 percent to greenhouse gas emissions.
The network also urged for a greater focus on decentralization and locally led climate actions in the agriculture sector, emphasizing the interests of smallholder farmers, including women, youth, people with disabilities, and other frontline communities impacted by the climate crisis.
The position paper called for innovative and alternative sources of grant-based finance, rooted in the principles of ‘polluter pays’ and UNFCCC’s foundational values of equity, justice, fairness, and access.
“At COP28, global north countries should repurpose global food subsidies to major commercial producers for agroecology, food systems, and market reforms, making these funds accessible to smallholder farmers for advancing sustainable food production systems,” noted Vuningoma.
Additional Demands at COP28
Apart from the emphasis on adaptation finance, Rwanda is set to launch a carbon market at COP28, focusing on measurable and verifiable emission reductions. However, civil society organizations are wary of false solutions, such as carbon markets, and are rejecting narratives that undermine community rights and sovereignty.
The civil society network on climate change and development is also demanding a just and equitable transition to renewable energy, prioritizing energy access for the poor and marginalized, with a guarantee of community ownership and participation.
They insist that developed countries fulfill their historical responsibility by providing adequate and predictable finance, technology transfer, and capacity building to support adaptation, mitigation, and loss and damage in Africa.
Experts argue that current adaptation finance falls significantly short of the required amount, estimating a gap of 5-10 times to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. The loss and damage fund, expected to be operationalized at COP28, is urged to be grant-based, locally-led, broad-based, gender-responsive, and accessible to frontline communities.
“At COP28, we want solutions to climate change. Rwanda’s priority is to showcase the solutions we have committed to scaling up green growth,” said Jeanne D’arc Mujawamariya, Rwanda’s minister of environment.
African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have jointly released a position paper outlining seven key demands on climate adaptation and loss and damage issues. Earlier, over 200 CSOs wrote to the COP28 president, urging strong advocacy for a climate adaptation agenda and unwavering commitment to its delivery.
The release of the position paper coincides with the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Adaptation Gap Report of 2023, revealing global underfinancing and underpreparedness for adaptation actions. The report estimates that countries need approximately $387 billion per year to implement domestic adaptation priorities.